Three private hire cab drivers from Milton Keynes fined for picking up passengers illegally

Court news.
Court news.

Three private hire cab drivers from Milton Keynes have been convicted for picking up passengers illegally (blagging).

Charles Ato Leeston of North Twelfth Street, Lakmithasan Poothan of Blythe Bridge, Broughton, and Mohideen Bawe Thowseer of Bellwether, Fullers Slade, all pleaded guilty to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance.

Mr Leeston was fined £40 for plying for hire and £120 for invalid motor insurance. He was also given 6 DVLA penalty points and has to pay costs of £200, with a victim surcharge of

£30.

Mr Poothan was fined £145 for plying for hire and £440 for invalid motor insurance. He was also given 6 DVLA points on his licence and has to pay costs of £600 and a victim

surcharge of £44.

Mr Thowseer was fined £100 for plying for hire and £300 for invalid motor insurance. Hewas also given 6 DVLA points on his licence and has to pay costs of £600 and a victim

surcharge of £30. All appeared at Mitlon Keynes Magistrates’ Court. Private hire vehicles can only pick up passengers by prior appointment only – and if a driver stops to pick up passengers on the street without pre-booking it also invalidates their car

insurance.

But the court heard that during the weekend of May 7/8 enforcement officers, acting as members of the public, engaged the drivers on journeys which had not been pre-booked.

At the completion of these journeys taxi enforcement officers from Milton Keynes Council and officers from Thames Valley Police were waiting. Investigations by the officers showed that none

of the drivers were allocated legitimate collections from the locations they were caught plying from.

The vehicles involved were all displaying private hire door signs for Private Hire Operator Speedline and were licensed by South Northants and Rossendale Councils.

Milton Keynes Council and Thames Valley Police have on-going concerns over the public’s use of Private Hire vehicles (also known as minicabs) that have not been booked in advance. Private

Hire vehicle drivers are only allowed to pick up people who have pre-booked, unlike Hackney Carriages which are allowed to pick up fares on the street. In case of an accident, neither the

driver nor the passenger would be covered by insurance.

When enforcing taxi legislation, the council’s main priority is the safety of the travelling public and other road users.

Councillor Mick Legg, the Cabinet member responsible for taxi licensing policy, said: “Licensed drivers are in a position of trust and members of the public expect that anyone driving a licensed vehicle has the correct licence and insurance to do so.

“These taxi drivers must take personal responsibility for the safety of everyone they carry in their private hire vehicles. Illegally plying for hire and driving without appropriate insurance cover

means that passengers have little or no legal protection whilst travelling in these vehicles.

“These cases will hopefully send a powerful message to the licensed trade and clearly show the consequences that await any licensed driver who fails to follow the law.

“We would urge members of the public not to get into private hire vehicles without a prearranged booking for their own safety.

“These operations by Milton Keynes Council will continue and shall hopefully minimise, if not eliminate, those drivers carrying out illegal activities within Milton Keynes.”